If your job ended and it wasn’t your choice, the experience of facing an uncertain future can be extremely stressful and frightening. You may be feeling out of control and helpless or perhaps even bitter with your former employer. All of these emotions are normal. How you handle these difficult days, however, can be a powerful example of strength and determination for your children. Remember, important life lessons are primarily learned during times of adversity. Use the following suggestions to help you and your family cope with your unemployment and move beyond it.
- Find a support system. You may not feel comfortable talking with your spouse about the feelings you are experiencing because you don’t want to worry him/her. However, during times of hardship communication is especially important. Being honest and open with your spouse can draw the two of you closer together. Also, locate a friend you trust, talk with a family member, or ask your former employer about employment counseling.
- Define your skills. Take time to evaluate all of your assets and ask friends and family for their input. Oftentimes we overlook many of our best traits and abilities. Sometimes we need to ‘think outside the box’ and get creative to broaden our chances of finding another position. Consider all options and think about where you want to be five to ten years from now.
- Contact your creditors and let them know about your financial situation. They will be more likely to negotiate payment options if you are upfront from the start.
- When you are emotionally and mentally able, make it your job to find another job. Rework your resume. Let others know you are available and seeking employment. Attend job fairs in order to make contacts with potential employers.
- Consider this challenge as an opportunity to grow. Perhaps you were ready for a new career path but you were hesitant to change. Use the loss of your former position to explore new opportunities.
- Help someone less fortunate than yourself. Use spare time to volunteer with a charity doing something positive. Being “other-centered” helps us from being too “me-centered.”
For the Children:
- Be as open and honest with your children as is possible. Children are very intuitive and will recognize tension in the home. Provide them with an age appropriate explanation of what is happening. Answer any questions they have and reassure them that although life might be different, you are all going to get through this together.
- Children thrive on predictability so follow daily routines as much as is possible. Keeping up bedtimes, baths, and story times helps children feel secure and loved.
- Don’t take out your frustrations on your children. If you feel yourself overreacting to misbehavior, take a personal time out. Put your hands behind your back, take a few deep breaths, and retreat to a quiet room until you regain your composure.
- Watch your children closely for signs of stress. Even infants exhibit anxiety through frequent crying and sleeplessness. Older children may regress in toileting, grades can drop, and teens may become withdrawn. Check in with your children often to ask how they are doing. Don’t ignore any behaviors that are not typical for your child. If necessary, contact the school counselor, your minister, a mental health professional, or call PAL for help.